'Bridgerton' Author Defends Show's Upcoming Queer Romance After Fan Backlash

It looks like “Bridgerton” may finally be including a gay romance in its forthcoming season ― and it’s already getting a mixed reception.

In the Season 3 finale of Netflix’s bodice-ripping period drama, viewers were introduced to Michaela Stirling (played by Masali Baduza), who appears poised to become a love interest for Francesca Bridgerton (Hannah Dodd).

The character’s addition is a notable change from the “Bridgerton” novels, in which Francesca weds a character named Michael after the death of her husband, John Stirling (played by Victor Alli in the series).

Though many fans have expressed hope for a queer coupling on “Bridgerton,” the introduction of Michaela angered some fans who’d expected the series to hew more closely to Julia Quinn’s books.

On Tuesday, the author reacted to the furor on social media, noting that “Bridgerton” showrunner Jess Brownell consulted with her extensively before the change was made.

Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton, Victor Alli as John Stirling, Masali Baduza as Michaela in the Season 3 finale of
Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton, Victor Alli as John Stirling, Masali Baduza as Michaela in the Season 3 finale of "Bridgerton." LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX

“Anyone who has seen an interview with me from the past four years knows that I am deeply committed to the Bridgerton world becoming more diverse and inclusive as the stories move from book to screen,” she wrote on Instagram. “But switching the gender of a major character is a huge change, and so when Jess Brownell first approached me with the idea of turning Michael into Michaela for the show, I needed more information before conferring my agreement.”

After those discussions, however, Quinn said she is confident that Francesca’s arc will be “the most heart-wrenching story of the show.” In fact, she feels it may “pack even more of a punch” given that the character of John Stirling is “getting a lot more time on the screen that he ever did on the page.”

“I think we are going to end up with two stories, one on page and one on screen, and they will both be beautiful and moving,” she concluded.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last week, Brownell said she wanted to have Francesca embark on a lesbian romance, after noting that aspects of the character’s storyline in Quinn’s books seemed to parallel the “queer experience.”

“It was important to me in creating a queer character not to just drop in a queer character to check a box but to actually tell a story about the queer experience and what it feels like to be queer,” she explained. “So, it felt like Francesca’s book was actually a really clean one to adapt, and we do plan on following the book pretty closely.”